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Expert geomorphological analysis


Method indicator
Bottom-Up Hybrid Top-Down

Summary of key issues:

Issue Description
Description Expert Geomorphological Analysis (EGA) integrates information from various sources to provide a broad-scale and long-term perspective on future change. The approach is reliant upon historical data and an expert understanding of geomorphological interpretation.
Temporal applicability EGA can be applied to many different time-scales:
  • geological (millions of years): geology of estuaries;
  • Holocene (thousands of years): creation of estuaries;
  • anthropogenic history (in the UK effectively since Roman times): land reclamation and the impact of agriculture;
  • near history (100-200 years): written records of data, impacts of industry and of major engineering schemes in estuaries such as dredging and training wall schemes;
  • decadal (post-war): accurate data, impacts of dredging and port development, saltmarsh loss; and,
  • years: changes in estuary sub-systems, including mudflats and creek systems.
Spatial applicability Estuary wide.
Links with other tools Links to modelling tools and numerical analysis, for example, can be used with estuary translation, morphological bed modelling, regime analysis and sediment transport data.
Data sources Historical archives, field data and management information.
Necessary software tools / skills Expertise in estuarine geomorphology.
Typical analyses Conceptual models of estuarine systems and predictions of future change.
Limitations Reliant on expertise and experience of person developing the analysis; data availability and quality.
Example applications Poole Harbour.


Expert geomorphological analysis seeks to integrate information from numerous sources to provide a broad-scale and long-term perspective on past and potential future change. The approach draws heavily on analysis of historic information, an understanding of landform evolution, and relative importance of the various process-form interactions. In effect, it is a basis for synthesising, or interpreting, the outputs from the various data analysis methods, within a framework guided by our present understanding of geomorphological behaviour.

As yet there are no well-defined methods, or protocols, to guide this type of analysis. The success of the method is very dependent on the extent and quality of the available data and the expertise of those undertaking the analysis. It is therefore important to carefully document the interpretation that is being made, typically identifying the data sources or results that are being relied on and then set out the conclusions that follow. This should rely on accepted behavioural models of geomorphological evolution. An important aspect of the analysis is to consider any information or data that does not support the proposed model, and the inclusion of any data should be explained. This may involve some discussion of the various uncertainties, and possibly some assessment of the likelihood of a number of different outcomes. An example of the use of this approach is given in Paper 15 of the EMPHASYS guide - PDF 3.97MB (EMPHASYS Consortium, 2000) (Pye and Van der Wal, 2000).

Read the full PDF document for more information on this methodPDF version

Analysis and modelling

Last Modified on: 19 June 2011
Printed from the Estuary Guide on 18/07/2024 03:37:35